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Posts Tagged ‘middle east’

This Is No Way to Run a Jihad

June 12th, 2013

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CEOs don’t like it when they discover massive changes within their corporations from the media – but that’s what happened this spring to Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaida’s chief awoke one day to discover al-Qaida in Iraq, or AQI, had announced it was merging with Jabhat al-Nusra, currently waging jihad in Syria against Bashar al-Assad. Zawahiri then dashed off a three-page letter to both groups annulling the merger.

But CEO Zawahiri will soon discover that his ability to influence his franchises through his words – not backed up with money, men, and arms – has little impact on the twists and turns of the Iraq-Syria conflict. Once again, the diminished share price of the AQ ticker symbol will be evident to the brokers of terrorism in the exchange of global jihad.

A little background: Jabhat al-Nusra came into being as an AQI offshoot and quickly became one of the most effective (and brutal) groups fighting the Syrian government. In December 2012, the State Department announced that al-Nusra and AQI were one and the same; it was unsurprising then when AQI head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a new AQI-Jabhat al-Nursa group, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” or ISIL, in April 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

March 19th, 2012

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This piece originally appeared in National Journal.

Who’s to blame for rising gas prices? No one. And everyone. The recent spikes we’re all seeing as we drive around are unavoidable. They are the consequence when there are no other widely available options to fuel our cars, trucks, and airplanes. As we noted in a recent paper, Why We Face More Pain at the Pump, current price spikes are the result of worries about renewed conflict in the Middle East, a growing global economy, and refineries going offline.

On the Middle East:

The oil market is spooked. Why? Tensions with Iran over their continued development of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s threats to cut off oil to Europe and close the Strait of Hormuz. Closing the Strait would shut off the shipping route for 20% of the world’s oil, dramatically curtailing supply. [Read more about the possible effects of war with Iran in our recent report Keeping Our Powder Dry] In 2011, the civil war in Libya had a similar impact on oil prices, despite the fact that Libya only accounted for 2% of global oil supply.

On the global economy:

Through the end of 2011, markets were frightened by the prospect of a Greek default pulling Europe, and the world, into a deep recession. This helped keep oil and other commodity prices down. In mid-February 2012, the European Union agreed to provide Greece an additional round of bailout funding to meet its debt obligations. With an economic crisis seemingly averted, economists anticipate that the global economy, and the demand for oil, will begin to grow more quickly in 2012.

On refineries:

Every year, domestic refineries take a time-out in the spring to perform maintenance and switch to a summer blend of gas. This year, a host of refineries began maintenance early, disrupting gas supplies earlier than usual. At the same time, several refineries are closing because high oil prices have destroyed their profit margins.

Our nation must begin to provide alternatives to gasoline. Whether the option is natural gas, electricity, or biofuels, forcing oil to compete for consumer dollars, would drive prices down. Will the price spikes caused by Middle East hostility, economic recovery, and refinery shortfalls be enough to move Washington to act? Only time will tell. I for one will be buying a Volt or Prius as soon as I can.

Israel Clings to Status Quo

May 24th, 2011

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“The status quo is unsustainable,” President Obama said when he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday. That’s the core issue in the controversy over President Obama’s Middle East policy.

The status quo is unsustainable for the United States because it is undermining Obama’s policy of outreach to the Muslim world. General David Petraeus said as much when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year. “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests” in the Middle East, Petraeus testified. Read the rest of this entry »

The Global Green Energy Race

March 2nd, 2010

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This piece was originally published in Forbes.

In the new decade, who is going to take the gold in the global clean energy market? Is America even in the running?

The answer is that the U.S. is behind in clean energy, but it’s certainly not out of it. The nature of American ingenuity, its market system, and the fact that it’s the best place to start a business means that even if it’s lagging, that can be turned around quickly.

Read the rest of this entry »